Celebrating the wonderful wealth of community food

Fiann Ó Nualláin says next weekend’s Cork Food Harvest Festival will be a mouthwatering one.

Next weekend sees the welcome return of the Cork Food Harvest Festival — following on from the family fun and cross-community comradery of last year’s inaugural event.

It is actually more than a weekend, with activities taking place over October 19, 20 and 21 with the largest concentration happening on the Saturday and Sunday.

Definitely, one for the diary and even though I am giving one of the Sunday talks, I’d be there any way to support and enjoy.

The aim of the event is to celebrate the wealth of community food and the many growing initiatives throughout Cork. It is organised by the Cork Food Policy Council, together with community groups, private enterprises, and partners from across Cork.

The city centre and various venues beyond will be packed with plenty of free events for all ages and levels of interest: there will be tours, workshops, talks, demonstrations, cook-offs and tastings.

The festival commences on Friday, October 19 at 1pm with a ticketed dinner date — ‘A Taste of Cork’ — a three-course meal prepared by culinary students from CIT Tourism and Hospitality Department.

One of the few pay events (€20 per person) but a certain treat. To book a place emailroisin.clancy@cit.ie or phone 021-4335820.

At 7.30pm, an event close to my heart, a screening of The Soil Solution to Climate Change by SHEP Earth Aware at Social Health Education Project, Village Chambers, Station Road, Ballincollig.

It’s an important short film and one of 13 influential films featured in A Climate of Change Tour sponsored by 350.org, TRUST campaign and Wild and Scenic Film Festival.

The documentary reminds us that worldwide, most soils are becoming depleted of carbon while the atmosphere continues to accumulate an excess of carbon in the form of CO2 and that climate change causing gas could be removed and stored back into our soil through land management practices easily implemented from large farms to your backyard plot.

The Saturday schedule is packed with a juicy array of demonstrations and activities exploring how to grow your own food, cook it, share it and thoroughly enjoy it. And, yes, tastings aplenty in many venues across Cork city and county.

Keep an eye out for what’s near you but also you may like to venture to the social enterprise Roots Coffee House and Beech Hill Garden Centre in Montenotte to partake in growing and harvest crafts events. The full schedule of events is online at corkfoodpolicycouncil.com

Dr Colin Sage, chair of the Cork FoodPolicy Council, said: “We are on course to exceed the number of partners opening their doors to visitors on Saturday, when people can see for themselves the innovative food activities taking place across the Cork region. We hope to repeat the success of last year’s splendid family event in Fitzgerald’s Park.”

This is what I loved about the festival last year — the array of different venues all supporting the educational and celebratory aspects of growing your own food, of knowing where your food comes from and how good food equals good health and even better communities. The celebration is not just horticultural, it is about the people who grow and the people they feed — be that a community café or your own family. It’s about community spirit as much gathered harvest.

Sunday is the big communal day with a come-together in Fitzgerald’s Park for a day of shared harvest and celebration — at the heart of which will be a free World Food Day Feast: a mighty vegetable curry cooked with produce from local community growing initiatives and donated food.

And while you tuck in there will be happening to entertain and inspire — stands, stalls, music, face painting and once you are fuelled there are more talks and happenings in other venues as food for thought.

A taster of what’s happening: Philip Allen of Lagan Valley Permaculture Networking will be discussing the topic of ‘A Healthy Economy’ at 2pm; Dr Eoin Lettice of UCC’s School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences will then be exploring ‘The Root of the Matter” how to manage plant/soil interactions for sustainable food production at 2.45pm.

Not to be missed if you are interested in a more sustainable lifestyle, or have an interest in self-sufficiency.

I will be in Cork Public Museum at 3.30pm talking about ‘Growing Health’ — from nutrition to herbalism to how gardening actually increases natural lifespan. Admission is free.

“The festival is dependent on a huge number of volunteers and supporters,” says Keelin Tobin, co-ordinator of Cork FoodPolicy Council. We are very grateful for all the support.”

All that’s left now is for you to go out and show your support.

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